The death of Panya "Ing" Tanunchaichomphu, from Lampang, at Nai Harn beach prompted relatives and friends to write an open letter to the National Council for Peace and Order,
Khun Ing was brought ashore by family yesterday afternoon. Onlookers tried to assist with CPR for 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived.
''Ing loved his friends, family and motorcycles,'' one friend later wrote to Phuket news outlets.
''He had recently completed an associates degree, and was planning to begin an internship before finishing his bachelors degree in Chiang Mai.''
Lifeguards have been absent from Phuket's 13 main tourist beaches since March 27 in a dispute that usually leaves the holiday island's beaches unguarded for up to seven weeks.
In a letter to the NCPO, the dead man's family said:
''Each year, Phuket's lifeguards save many swimmers in distress. However annually, the lifeguard organisation re-negotiates bids with the government and inexcusably during this time, zero guards are protecting the beach.
''Surf season has already begun, putting many innocent visitor's lives at serious risk. At an otherwise world class tourist-friendly island destination, this is totally inexcusable, avoidable and a crying shame.
''People should feel safe enjoying the beach, regardless of contacts and budgets. In order to protect Thailand and Phuket's image, guards need to be stationed on beaches all year long.
''Therefore, the victim's family respectfully urges General Prayuth and the NCPO to correct this problem by ending the annual pattern. In using its power to expediently consider this urgent matter, we appreciate the government's kind attention and genuine concern.''
Lifeguards are expected to be back on Phuket's beaches before June.